Caring for your elderly parents can be a challenging task. As our bodies gets older, they may fall victim to a number of health problems, which can be difficult for us to cope with. Seniors can become upset and depressed over small things because their bodies are unable to keep up with their minds. Other seniors will have mental health problems, which takes its toll on them and everyone around them.
In order to properly care for your elderly parents, you need to learn how to communicate with them. Here are 5 simple ways you can open the lines of communication and build a strong and healthy relationship with your parents:
- Show them respect. Just because you need to come over every morning and get them ready for the day does not mean they are a child. Your parents want you to still look upon them as the parents, not as an infant that needs care. Show them respect by treating them as your equal. You still need to sit down with them and ask them for advice and their opinions. Give them the opportunity to share their opinions instead of making decisions for them. They need to make their voice heard; even if you think what they have to say is a little odd.
- Learn how to listen to your elderly parents. Parents like to be heard by their children, no matter what age they are. You need to respect them by listening to what they have to say. Truly listen to them instead of pretending to listen. When they are talking, give them your complete attention. Sit down with them and let them tell stories for hours and engage in fun conversations. Sometimes listening can be difficult and you may not hear exactly what they said, so you need to follow up with clarification questions. This is a great way to make their life a little easier and to make your caregiving time more enjoyable.
- Remain calm. Elderly parents may be slipping into the early stages of dementia and sometimes they say things that they don’t mean. Many researchers have found that some elderly people tend to think they can say whatever is on their mind and people cannot combat it because they are “old”. Be mindful of things that your elderly parents may say that are hurtful. Instead of lashing out at them when they say something hurtful, take a deep breath and walk away. If they continue to exhibit this behavior, kindly confront them about it and express your feelings. You may need to talk to their doctor about it because they may have dementia or it could indicate that they have suffered a small stroke.
- Have rules and boundaries. As a caregiver, you are giving up a large part of your life for your elderly parents. They will recognize this sacrifice and devotion to them so you don’t need to constantly tell them. It is important for you to set some boundaries and rules with your elderly parents to keep your relationship strong and healthy. Let them know that some of their requests are unreasonable and learn how to tell them no. If your elderly parents cause too much stress on other loved ones, try to limit your visit at that person’s home. Keeping it short and sweet may be easier for some of your siblings that do not understand dementia
- Love them. The best way to open up the lines of communication with your parents is to simply love them. Acknowledge when they do things that try to help you out. They may not be able to do things the way you want, but they are trying. Always tell them how much you appreciate them and love having them in their life so they know they are needed.
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.